Love the Christian Who Drives You Crazy

You smile politely as she continues to ramble on about something you don’t care about, all the while gritting your teeth and clenching your fists. It’s that woman at church you really can’t tolerate, whose personality seems to grit against you each time you see her. As you nod along to her story, you repeat over and over in your head, “I don’t like her, but I’ll love her in Christ.”

In the midst of your teeth gritting, fist clenching, and tongue biting, do you mind if I ask: Do you truly love them?

We know that love isn’t always a feeling—love is a choice. We can choose, despite feelings, to love one another. And I commend you for having that attitude! But your reaction and thoughts lead me to think that you still haven’t truly chosen to love that person yet.

In the universal Church and the local church we are going to come across fellow believers that we clash with. People will annoy us, hurt us, and make us angry. It’s part of living in a sinful world. Thankfully, we know that one day in God’s presence we won’t be faced with such conflict because we will all be finally free from sin.

But what do we do in the meantime? We’re called to not only love some of our fellow brothers and sisters but to love each and every one.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us (1 John 4:7–12).

How do we love those who grit our nerves? How do we truly love those difficult Christians in our lives?

True Love in Christ

To love someone, we need to know what true love is. The world claims that love is all-accepting (even of sin and heresy), does not point out wrong, needs to be earned, and requires a feeling with it. But the love that Christ calls us to is much different. And if we do not love one another in this way, John says that we should question if we truly know God (1 John 4:7–8).

Jesus defined the greatest love this way: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). John, who heard these words from Jesus’ mouth the night He spoke them, reiterates this in his first epistle as well: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16).

This isn’t a casual, “Yeah, I guess I would take a bullet for you” type of love. Laying down our lives means much more than simply stating you would lose your life for someone. This kind of love is instead seen in action through laying down our needs, our desires, and our schedules. Paul explains this in Philippians:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil. 2:3–4).

Do you love in this way? Are you willing to regard others as more important than your routines and desires? Are you able to lay down your life for others?

How Do We Love?

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14). True love in Christ is a fulfillment of the second table of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:12–17):

  • If you love someone, you will not murder them—either physically or in your heart (Matt. 5:21–22).
  • If you love someone, you will not steal from them but instead earn an honest living so that you can give back to them (Eph. 4:28).
  • If you love someone, you will not lie about them or slander them but instead strive for unity (Eph. 4:25).
  • If you love someone, you will not covet what they have but instead be thankful and rejoice with them (Ex. 20:17; Rom. 12:15).

First Corinthians 13:4–7 is another place to check our love for one another.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Does your love for your difficult brother or sister match this love described by Paul?

Remembering the Love We Have Received

As we consider how we are to love one another—even those who drive us nuts, we may feel a heavy weight of conviction and impossibility. How on earth can we love others with such a love? I struggle to love those whom I like with this kind of love, let alone those who have harmed or irritated me.

The truth: We aren’t capable of loving one another in this all the time. As imperfect people, we will love one another imperfectly.

But John reminds us of the source, foundation, and hope for such a love:

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. . . . We love, because he first loved us (1 John 4:9–11, 19).

He didn’t save us because we were convinced He was worth our time and affection. He didn’t save us because we chose to turn from our sins. When we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6–8).

He chose us before the foundation of the world to be His children (Eph. 1:4), died a brutal death on the cross for us, and endured the full wrath of God we deserved for our sins to exchange his righteousness for our sins, so that we could be brought near. He did this not because he looked down the corridor of time and knew that we would choose Him. He did this because He chose to set His love on us. He did this knowing that we would never choose Him unless He first changed our hearts to do so.

By this kind of love we were saved, and by this kind of love we are able to love our fellow brothers and sisters. Having first been changed and saved by such a love, and remembering the great love we have been shown by God, we love one another. And when we fail to love one another in the way that we have been called to, we repent and point people to God, who did, does, and always will love them perfectly. This is the love that fuels our love for one another and has united us together in Christ.

Love Does Not Require Being Best Friends

We are called to love one another with the same passionate, selfless love with which Christ has loved us—not just those we get along with and click with in the Body of Christ but every believer. However, this doesn’t mean we will be best friends with everyone. Christ had twelve disciples, three of which He was closer to.

You will have people in your church that you are closer with, those who you spend more time with. There will be people in your church who are close friends, some “distant” friends, and some we wouldn’t really consider friends at all. But what doesn’t change is our love toward them. You may never become great friends with that difficult Christian in your life, but in Christ you can truly love them.

If you need more help with dealing with difficult people, head over to our store and pick up the Bible study book Abigail: Living with the Difficult People in Your Life. It provides six weeks of study that dives deep into our conflicts and the God who is present in them.

About the Author

Lara d’Entremont

Lara d’Entremont

Lara d’Entremont is first a wife and a mom to three little wildlings in rural Nova Scotia, Canada. While the wildlings snore, she primarily writes—whether it be personal essays, creative nonfiction, or fantasy novels. She desires to weave the stories … read more …

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